Going Through The Motions – Is It Just Me?

the precious present book

I don’t know what it is about this holiday season, but I’m just not into it. I’m not unhappy necessarily, just not particularly over-joyed. I feel like everything I’ve been doing since Thanksgiving is just another box checked off my list.

This week, especially, feels off. I don’t know if it’s the super moon, media fatigue from the onslaught of idiotic behavior from the celebrity and political set or maybe it’s just the typical overwhelming feeling that comes with the holiday rush.

Whatever it is, I desperately want to have more festive focus throughout this wonderful time of year. I mean, what’s the point of decking the halls, dressing festively and attending fun holidays events if I’m not going to revel in it. Everything I’m doing, I want to be doing – I just need to check back in to the joy of it.

The Precious Present

Thankfully, as I dug through my Christmas decorations, I pulled out my holiday book collection. The first one I grabbed was The Precious Present by Spencer Johnson – one of my favorites.

My sister, Karla, included The Precious Present in her guest blog, Holiday Books – Good For the Soul, posted last year.

It is just the perfect short read (less than ten minutes) to help reengage in what’s important during the holiday season and life in general for that matter. Spoiler Alert! The precious present is not a physical present.

Having re-read The Precious Present I am reminded that merely going through the motions of life is as good as sitting on my couch and watching it through a television screen. Boring!

Hopefully this little kick in the pants will be just what I need to keep my holiday season feeling merry and bright.

How have you been feeling this holiday season? What helps you get in the spirit when something seems to be missing?


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Paint Your Pet at Painting with a Twist

Paint Your Pet Oscar

I’m a pretty artsy type – my favorite subject in school was art. My creative side exists just under the surface and most recently manifests itself through my writing. But I’ve always loved drawing, painting, pottery and crafts too.

So, it’s strange to me that I had never attended a painting party where inactive creatives, like me, can get a dose of artistic expression in a fun, unintimidating setting.

This was the case until November 8th when I gathered a group of fellow pet lovers and took over North Andover’s premier painting studio, Painting with a Twist. I first discovered Painting with a Twist at an art event held in their fabulous studio space at 10 High Street. I love their location tucked into the growing High Street Mill area. The rustic brick and exposed venting along with the colorful studio décor create such a cool vibe.

At the art event I had the pleasure of meeting studio owner, Dee Dellovo. Dee is a sweetheart and in no time we agreed that a collaboration was in order. Paint Your Paint was a no-brainer. I was so thrilled with my first experience, I can’t wait to go back for one of their regularly scheduled events. There are a variety of scenes to paint – a family night would be great. I’d love to see the varied interpretations we’d each come up with from our blank canvases.

Paint Your Pet

As for our pets, as artsy as I think I am, I could never produce a version of Oscar to do him justice. So, for Paint Your Pet, you submit a photo of your furry friend and the team of artists at Painting with a Twist sketch your pet in advance.


Paint Your Pet Sketches


This head start does not, in any way, take away from the hard work required to successfully paint your pet. As we novice painters put brush to canvas we quickly realized the effort and attention to detail required. Thankfully, we had the help of Dee, DJ and Sam who guided us in transforming our portraits into passion projects to be proud of.


Thanks for joining me gals!


To add to the enjoyment, we brought in beverages and munchies to nosh on while breaking to admire each other’s masterpieces. Good Day Café’s Sweet Bite tray and Roasted Veggie Tuscan bread (so good) were perfect.


The Roasted Veggies Tuscan Bread and Sweet Bite Tray from Good Day Cafe

appetizers and desserts

Oscar on Canvas

My portrait of Oscar is hanging in my home office and I can honestly say that I’m thrilled with it. I look at my creation and smile every time. Not just because of the handsome subject, but because I feel pretty darn good about how it turned out.


The holidays are a great time to gather friends and family for something different and fun.

Check out Painting with A Twist’s upcoming themes (December has some great Christmas ideas). Or call or email to coordinate your own birthday or paint and sip party!




Paint Your Pet Painters


Thank you to Painting with a Twist for a great night and my fellow pet painters who joined me!


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The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown-Book Club

Wow! What a week. Power was out for two days and no internet or TV for three. I was forced to unplug and, in a way, it was a nice break. But alas, we are up and running and back online as usual. This week on the blog, book club was back in business. And by business I’m talking more about wine and cheese than the book, but if you are interested in the book here’s what I can tell you.

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown is a best seller and came highly recommended, yet book club gave it a unanimous thumbs down. To be honest, no one actually read it in its entirety. Most didn’t read it at all and I skimmed the majority just to get to the end.

The Synposis (a brief excerpt from Goodreads)

Daniel James Brown’s robust book tells the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans. The sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the boys defeated elite rivals first from eastern and British universities and finally the German crew rowing for Adolf Hitler in the Olympic games in Berlin, 1936.

The Review

We simply were not the right club for this book. As I see it, if you are passionate about the sport of rowing, you may like this book. If you are a history buff, you may enjoy this book. If you’re curious about Seattle, WA, this book may be for you.

Otherwise, like me, you may struggle to get into it. Deep, deep within the pages of excruciating and often unnecessary detail, that didn’t move the story forward, there was a decent story. I didn’t come to appreciate this until chapter twelve.

To me, this felt like a case of indulgent writing where the author couldn’t help but include every bit of minutia uncovered in the book’s creation.

There was so much backstory to every account that it struck me as all over the place. It jumped from the teamwork of a rowing crew to Nazi Germany to boxing, filmmaking, lumberjacking, boat making and more. Not to mention the compelling family dynamic of the main character which was lost among everything else.

I’m all for descriptive, colorful, even flowery writing, but I’m afraid this just went way overboard – no pun intended.

If you truly enjoyed this book, please forgive my lack of appreciation. I don’t discount it for the massive research that must have gone into its making. There were also occasions of truly deft writing, however just much too much of all of it.

Despite my struggle to reach the end of this book, I’m glad I got there. That’s the challenge of book club – to push through stories that aren’t to my taste, but have value none-the-less.

If not for this book, I may not have been inspired to check out the Head of the Charles for the first time. So much fun!


Head of the Charles

crew boat in Charles river


If not for our book club meeting, I wouldn’t have had the chance to cozy up to this lovely lady. Isn’t she sweet?


Lily and her friends


Did you read The Boys in the Boat? What did you think?

Next Up

Since bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand is visiting our area in December, book club has decided to give her Winter series a read. Options include Winter Street, Winter Stroll or Winter Storms. I can probably get through all three quicker than I did The Boys in the Boat.

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It’s Official! I Have a Teen Driver and I Want to Cry

car keys and Northeastern University pamphlet


I did not drive my girls to school today. They did not take a bus or catch a ride from a friend. Together, my 16-year old and 15-year old took off on their own without so much as a glance backward. The tears that welled up in my eyes were ones of joy, sadness and fear all at the same time.

When I was in my twenties I had a friend whose mom always cried when saying goodbye to her daughter. I didn’t get it back then – I get it now.

I know you understand. Sure, I’m relieved not to be their underappreciated chauffeur anymore, but sad that those days are behind me. My 15-year old made it clear that I’m out as her go-to ride and her sister is in. Not to worry my sweet darling – I realize that it’s much cooler to be driven around by your teen driver sister than by your annoying mother. Lucky they are close and my oldest isn’t opposed to carting her little sister around on her every whim.

It’s OK, I was once that little sister too. Back then I was well aware that I had a jump on my future via the independence of my sibling. The freedom, the control the excitement of being a teen driver is, in many ways, unparalleled.

But what about the constant worry? My fear for their safety tightens my chest in a such a dramatic way, I have to remind myself to breathe.

But it’s all good, right? Every little milestone these kids reach is a notch on our belt of parenthood. Good things are happening – they are growing, they are maturing, they are becoming adults. Good God, it’s hard to believe.

One more thing

To add to the thrill of our teen driver passing her driving test, that same day we attended her first official college tour.  She loved it, we loved it and, together, we took one more step toward an inevitable empty nest.

This is a crazy time in life. Weirdly, I kind of like it.


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